Friday, July 12, 2013

Rant on Rulebooks

I just received my OMM (On Military Matters) product update in my email today . . . and, once again it listed a very large rulebook.

Now when I say "large", I'm not kidding.  A hardback book of over 400 pages and weighing about 5 pounds (costing $99 USD plus shipping).

And while they may very well be excellent rules I personally do not want anything that huge (and presumably complex).  As I've aged (I'm now 65) I find that I very much prefer relatively simple rules.  I do not need the large volumes of extensive rules that so many companies seem to have favored over the past decade or so.

For my Colonial gaming I have gone back to using "The Sword and the Flame", which is around 30 years old now . . . but which still provides a good fun exciting skirmish game.

For my recent 16th century gaming, I'm using Clarence Harrison's "Victory Without Quarter" rules, which only take a handful of pages.

And for my 18th century gaming, I use fairly simple rules that I've written myself . . . which can pretty much be played just from the Quick Reference Sheets.

All of these provide me with enjoyable gaming experiences WITHOUT needing hundreds of pages of rulebook . . . so why would I want a rulebook that weighs 5 pounds?

If YOU want these huge rulebooks for your games, that's fine.  I have no objection to your playing (and even enjoying) such extensive rule tomes . . . but they are not for me.

-- Jeff


Mosstrooper said...

Although pretty, these books fill me with terror at the thought of learning yet another set of rules. I try and use O.S. when ever possible - 'Charge' and Grant's rules especially , cheers Tony

CelticCurmudgeon said...

I gathered from Dennis' description that this book was more about pictures and had extremely complex rules to boot. Nay I say, nay! Keep it simple.

tradgardmastare said...

I with you and Tony on this one! The older I get the simpler the rules I gravitate towards.
BTW can one buy "The Sword and the Flame" in the UK ?

Bluebear Jeff said...


I don't know about UK availability for TSATF . . . I'm 8 time zones to the west . . . but they can be ordered from the US for around $33 USD (22 GBP):

What you would want would be the 20th Anniversary Edition rulebook.

You might also check eBay, etc. for used copies.

-- Jeff

Mosstrooper said...

Sergeants Three do a very good mail order service - got my copy from them

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

You can even buy soft copy I think - comes on a CD....

What irritates me is that most of the rule books these days seem to have a 1:10 ratio of rule pages to picture pages.....

A J said...

I'm also totally against huge volumes of complicated rules. Why should I spend so much money on a rules set when I can add a few more units or figures to the table instead?

AdamC1776 said...

I got the PDF Version of these rules though the Kickstarter. I think it cost me $5.00 So far they do not appear too complected.

Part of the size is you have two ways to play the game a Skirmish (think of it as the pre-battle battle between the armies Vangaurd) and the Division game the battle between the armies.

I agree the Price is very Steep but I think it will come down once its in full production.

Don't just take my word on it Anatoli's gotten though the full book and played some games:

Bluebear Jeff said...

Please let me be clear here. I am criticizing the trend towards huge rule tomes . . . not a particular rule book itself.

I know nothing about the particular 400+ page rule set other than its size. In fact I hope that it is very good. But I want simpler rules; I don't want to be trying to find something in a rulebook that weighs five pounds.

In contrast, "The Sword and the Flame" rule price for the UK has a lot to do with shipping cost. TSATF doesn't have color photos (and includes a second set of rules "The Sword in Africa" as well) but is a very enjoyable set of rules that have flourished for decades because they provide an excellent table top experience.

-- Jeff

Prince Lupus said...

Simple games for me too.

And a personal gripe I have is the lack of organisation - it takes me ages to find all the relevant bits in Blackpowder for example.

Why not number the rules and cross reference them. Charge! is one of the best sets ever for that.

By the way any photos of your colonial games Jeff?

Bluebear Jeff said...

Prince Lupus,

My Colonial blog is here:

But you will need to search back a ways for game photos. Many posts have to do with the technical details of the campaign for the players.

Also it has been close to two years since we've actually played because one player had a heart attack (he's okay now), then my cancer hit (I'm recovering).

But I do like the whole concept of the campaign and the games were fun.

-- Jeff

The Ferrymen said...

Hi Jeff,
I feel particularly sorry for the individuals that buy those rules, when the next revision comes out in a year or two. They have to buy it, or they're no longer current. Then they've got another huge tome of rules and one that has now become a doorstop. Yikes!


AdamC1776 said...

I certainly hope that will not happen John and it would change my opinion fast.